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K: The Art of Love Paperback – November 1, 2002

8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

It appears that the author of K could not be happier that people are talking about the sexually explicit nature of her writing-touted as a Chinese Lady Chatterly's Lover-expressing her pleasure in the lengthy foreword: "So to all you readers who see the erotic in K, I congratulate you on your luck." Hong writes of the illicit love affair between young Julian Bell, son of Vanessa and nephew of Virginia Woolf, and Lin Cheng, then the wife of a college dean who is Julian's employer in China. Grabbing the freedom to blend fact with fiction, Hong imagines, quite vividly, all the angst, guilt, and eroticism involved in the taboo union between a "respectable" Chinese woman and a "foreign devil." Set against the backdrop of the Japanese invasion of China and all its attendant horror, the book conveys a vivid sense of the disparities between sensibilities both emotional and physical. This is a fast and interesting read that will not disappoint those looking for yet another literary work alluding to the Bloomsbury group. Recommended for all libraries. [The daughter of Ling Shuhua, on whom Lin Cheng is based, has brought suit against this book in China, claiming that it defames her mother. Hong Ying currently lives in London.-Ed.]-Michelle Reale, Elkins Park, P.
--Michelle Reale, Elkins Park, PA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Written with a wonderfully intense simplicity - it's tough, uncompromising, direct and tense with strong emotion, but also full of poetry and grace -- Andrew Motion A beautiful and gripping writer -- Tariq Ali Independent Readable, clever and spare -- Tibor Fischer Erotic Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd (November 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714530727
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714530727
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,434,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By vannie osborne on December 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
I am regretful this novel is banned in China. However, when that happens, it makes curiousity an intense ache. Hong Ying has done an excellent job in portraying Julian Bell (nephew of Virginia Woolf) and his Chinese mistress, Lin. The affair starts almost instanteously with a little talk, a look, then moves into a constant taunt of lovemaking and from that point into a love that will not cease. It is difficult not to fall in love with Lin and Julian, their affair. The novel has a way of making the reader forget that they are indeed characters based on real individuals. There are many "peaks" in the novel--one beautifully written scene in an opium den where the lovers show off their passion, their affection, their lust--their intertwined spirits. Ying also includes the most crisp details of Lin's apparel and various cloths, even these common items are sexually charged by the characters' exuberant behavior. Backdrops that work against the lovers include war, the free-style relationship Julian has with his own mother (a little on the oedipal side), pestering servants, an American female, a foul, ill-dressed European female, and Lin's husband Cheng (who does not make it difficult for Lin to have an affair). But I must state that it is love itself that serves as the most prominent antagonist for the two.
Lin teaches Julian Daoist theories to lovemaking. Julian teaches Lin . . . well maybe another reader can help me see exactly what he teaches her. What is clear, however, is that Julian and Lin bend posture in each other. They release pinned-up fever only to realize that lust and clandestine tapping can actually turn into serious affection. Yes, one can fall in love after lust has had its say. Initially, one might believe that Lin is merely a bored wife who is also a successful writer.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael Gross on July 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
K is the story of a strange encounter between two cultures. At the surface, it's about Chinese and English culture, and also about the very Martian culture of a man and the Venusian one of a woman. But it soon becomes clear that the protagonists aren't representing these cultures. If anything, they struggle to define an identity within small subcultures at the margins of their respective societies.

The Englishman, Julian Bell, is like his eponymous real-life model a product of the Bloomsbury Group which had a set of values quite radically different from what was considered normal at the time. Son of the painter Vanessa Bell (who had an open marriage with a bisexual man) and nephew of Virginia Woolf, he tends to judge everything with the measure of the intellectual cult he grew up in, and initially sneers at the idea that Chinese poets may be producing anything comparable.

The Chinese woman, called Lin Cheng in the novel, but based on the biography of the poet and writer Ling Shuhua, is also associated with an intellectual circle, the New Moon Society. Her contradiction is that she believes in the Daoist "Art of Love", which to her intellectual peers is just a feudal old nonsense. The arrival of the Englishman gives her the opportunity to put this theory into practice.

And practice they do, quite a bit, and it's sensitively and sensuously described in the novel, even in the English translation I read, which is by Nicky Harman and the author's husband Henry Zhao. The eroticism is, of course, a problem for some people in China and in the UK, and so it came to pass that Ling Shuhua's daughter sued the author for libel in Chinese courts for defamation of the dead, and eventually succeeded in having the book banned in mainland China.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Vannie Osborne on February 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
I am regretful this novel is banned in China. However, when that happens, it makes curiousity an intense ache. Hong Ying has done an excellent job in portraying Julian Bell (nephew of Virginia Woolf) and his Chinese mistress, Lin. The affair starts almost instanteously with a little talk, a look, then moves into a constant taunt of lovemaking and from that point into a love that will not cease. It is difficult not to fall in love with Lin and Julian, their affair. The novel has a way of making the reader forget that they are indeed characters based on real individuals. There are many "peaks" in the novel--one beautifully written scene in an opium den where the lovers show off their passion, their affection, their lust--their intertwined spirits. Ying also includes the most crisp details of Lin's apparel and various cloths, even these common items are sexually charged by the characters' exuberant behavior. Backdrops that work against the lovers include war, the free-style relationship Julian has with his own mother (a little on the oedipal side), pestering servants, an American female, a foul, ill-dressed European female, and Lin's husband Cheng (who does not make it difficult for Lin to have an affair). But I must state that it is love itself that serves as the most prominent antagonist for the two.
Lin teaches Julian Daoist theories to lovemaking. Julian teaches Lin . . . well maybe another reader can help me see exactly what he teaches her. What is clear, however, is that Julian and Lin bend posture in each other. They release pinned-up fever only to realize that lust and clandestine tapping can actually turn into serious affection. Yes, one can fall in love after lust has had its say. Initially, one might believe that Lin is merely a bored wife who is also a successful writer.
Read more ›
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